With the UEFA Euro 2021 tournament underway, the advances in technology to boost players and improve the overall fan experience, have been more important than ever. “Which football fan doesn’t want to experience what a football player sees, feels, hears, and even senses, and – most importantly – how fast he kicks the ball?” With […]
Weekly brief: Tech is shaping the future of football!
With the UEFA Euro 2021 tournament
underway, the advances in technology to boost players and improve the overall
fan experience, have been more important than ever.
“Which football fan doesn’t want to
experience what a football player sees, feels, hears, and even senses, and –
most importantly – how fast he kicks the ball?”
With the successively increasing
intensity of matches, injury prevention is crucial. Zone7 takes into account 5 million hours of
human performances in sports and operates with AI patterns in order to identify
breakpoints or potential problems for the players and athletes. All based on
tons of data and AI algorithms!
Southampton Football Club unveiled the
world’s first kit to feature Augmented Reality. In partnership with Hummel, fans can scan with their smartphones
to bring the shirt to life and experience exclusive content. Football really is
coming (to the comfort of our own) home.
InCrowd exists to significantly improve the
fan experience through digital innovation, leading and shaping the development
of the sports industry to cater to the digitally-driven modern sports fan.
Acknowledging that fans have different experiences with sport, they’ve
identified 4 key fan experiences.
Football hasn’t been the same, but with the help of innovative tech, it could become better than ever before!
This week’s interviewee is Will Thomas, founder and CEO of Fantasy Football Hub (https://fantasyfootballhub.co.uk/) – an online community of Fantasy Football writers and playing enthusiasts. Set up two years ago, FFH seeks to capitalise on the rapid growth of a growing trend. That is, the millions of Fantasy Premier League managers glaring, square faced at […]
This week’s interviewee is Will Thomas, founder and CEO of Fantasy Football Hub (https://fantasyfootballhub.co.uk/) – an online community of Fantasy Football writers and playing enthusiasts. Set up two years ago, FFH seeks to capitalise on the rapid growth of a growing trend. That is, the millions of Fantasy Premier League managers glaring, square faced at their laptops into the early hours of Saturday mornings, agonising over the key decisions they must make each week ahead of the next round of Premier League fixtures.
To captain Salah or Sterling? Wildcard or bench boost? What
rotation trick will Pep Guardiola pull on us this week?
Second guessing Guardiola is an impossible task, and is the
perfect illustration of the endless choices available to Fantasy Premier League
managers, which is a key reason the game has exploded over the last few years
from a hobby for the ultra-keen football fan into a growing market all of its
From a game played by 76,000 users in the first season of
the official Premier League version of the game, to one in which over 6 million
participate in today, the growth has been exponential and shows no sign of
Websites, podcasts and a whole range of information are now
readily available for obsessive football geeks battling it out to beat their
mates on a weekly basis. The need to gain a competitive edge therefore has
become increasingly important for the game’s loyal and growing following. Enter
Thomas and the Fantasy Football Hub.
What led you to create your business?
I had been playing for a number of years and used to blog
about Fantasy Football. I noticed that there were loads of different resources
which I was using and was able to get an edge, which not that many people knew
about. So that was the inspiration to create a fantasy football hub, where all
this knowledge would be in one easily accessible place.
How have you monetised your website and grown it since it
was set up two years’ ago?
We built a community of writers and incentivised them to
share what they create to social media, providing them with commission for
their work, which allowed the concept to grow (generating a lot of organic
traffic for us). This contributor model continues to be a key revenue driver
for us, but we’ve also developed a lot of own brand products now.
We are fortunate that the whole space is growing massively.
With our model, we’re fortunate to produce
a dozens of articles and team eveals per gameweek from high calibre writers and
Our main source of revenue is players signing up as
subscribers to our site, and we get our main bulk of our member sign ups at the
start of the season. The site has been going a couple of years now, and I went
full time just over a year ago (February 2019). It’s still very much in the startup
phase but growing and members are on the rise and the site hits continue to
move in the right direction.
We also have affiliate partnerships with other startups,
such as Footstock (a Fantasy Football / player trading hybrid). We’re growing
very quickly and the partnership with Footstock is perfect as we’ve got their
target audience base and visa-versa.
We launched a big crowd funding raise in August 2019. 18
months ago we had 500 subscribers but at the time of the crowd fund that had
risen to around 3,000 (according to Seedrs FFH has a valuation of £1.7m after
fundraising was complete).
Clearly FPL is a hugely growing market. A game played by
76,000 users in the Fantasy Premier League’s first official season 17 years ago
now has over 7 million people playing every week. The need for players to have
information and insider knowledge is increasingly important – so please can you
tell us about the algorithm you’re developing on your site?
We have an algorithm spreadsheet on site, but are currently converting
this into a points projection tool for our new app. There are various ways we
can project performance using things such as spread betting odds, massive data
and expected goals and assists to predict fantasy points.
Our goal is for the user to, in just a couple of clicks, to
see how players are likely to perform in the weeks ahead.
Presumably having no football played for several months
was not good for business. How have you found the impact of Coronavirus on your
The pandemic has not been great for us but it has allowed us
to focus on the tech side of the business. And since the Premier League returned,
we’ve seen a surge in traffic once again. Demand has not gone away, and in fact
we usually wouldn’t see this level of activity at the end of the season.
What does your business look like in terms of the size of
the team and your following?
We’re relatively small in core team of five – most currently
working part-time. But then we have of over 50 contributors who I consider part
of our team. We’ve also fortunate to have a brilliant developer who knows FPL
inside out. It’s one thing getting a brilliant developer, but if they don’t
know FPL it’s difficult to explain the nuances (so that they understand the
user experience properly).
We also outsource different things –some website upgrades for
example, and acquired a competitor, FPL updates, who we are looking to build in
some automation for. If you want score and assist updates we’re developing a
bot which produces this throughout the gameweek and will run on FPL Updates’
Twitter handle (98,000 followers). In terms of our own following, we have
35,000 twitter followers, 29,000 on Instagram and 12,000 on YouTube.
What one pearl of wisdom would you share with other would
The biggest one for me is that if you have an idea you have
to get it out there and test it, find out if it works and what parts of it
work. That’s what I do throughout the business on day to day basis, (for
example) a new article series people think may work. Does it get a good
reaction? Do we get the site hits? If it’s unsuccessful we drop it.
It’s the same if we look to build a new tool – we’re looking
to get our app out there at the moment and are looking to build something
that’s (intentionally) not the finished article, so that we can test what works
and what doesn’t. Rather than spending tens of thousands of pounds building an
app with premium features and then finding out a day later that this isn’t what
the user wants.
It’s crucial for anyone looking to start out in any start-up
that you have to find out what works and what doesn’t. When I first had the
idea (to create the website) I had it up in a week. But at the end of that week
I had my first paying member (even though the website wasn’t particularly well
designed, according to Thomas), so if someone was willing to sign up for this –
which was very rudimentary, it was likely we were onto a winner. If you do
things this way then you build it for your users rather than yourself.
Finally, the most important question of all. What tip
would you give Fantasy Football managers going into the final gameweeks of the
I really like Manchester United and Manchester City. It’s
not revolutionary news but they have brilliant fixtures, United in particular.
They have fantastic form, the usual suspects would be Bruno Fernandes, Anthony
Martial and Marcus Rashford. Aaron Wan Bissaka at the back (is another good
Manchester City have more differential options. Kevin de
Bruyne is the main man but maybe Riyad Mahrez or Phil Foden. Foden isn’t
guaranteed minutes but he is only £5.2m (now £5.4m) and is looking very
threatening with good numbers behind him, especially now Leroy Sané has
completed his move (to Bayern Munich), so he should get some more minutes.
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